Two Interesting Benefits of Sleep for Athletes

By djpope

January 21, 2012

Do you ever wonder why human beings need sleep?  Why do we need to be unconscious for 1/3 of the day every day.  Was it a survival mechanism we adapted to stay indoors and out of harm at night when we can’t see well?  Is it an adaptive mechanism to keep humans from burning as many calories so we could better survive in famine?  Why the heck do we need to sleep?

Anyway we know without a doubt that sleep is important for optimal health and functioning.  The other day I came across two really interesting research pieces in an article by Eric Cressey.  They were about sleep and performance.

In the first study they took Stanford University basketball players and decided to test their basketball skills with their current amount of sleep.  Then they gave the athletes 5-7 weeks where they were expected to sleep more per night.  The goal was 10 hours per night.  Overall the players averaged about 2 extra hours of sleep per night during this 5-7 week period.  Then they were tested again. A few things happened when they had more sleep.

  1. Faster sprint times
  2. Better shooting accuracy
  3. Decrease reaction time
  4. Increased vigor and decreased fatigue
  5. Improved overall physical and mental well-being

If anyone wants a way to take their game to the next level, you might want to think about getting a little more sleep!

The second article was even more interesting.  The article’s main focus was to see if the frequency and intensity of sport practice in young athletes was related to an increased rate of sports related injuries.  Well, it definitely was, adequate rest is of the utmost importance between practice sessions in order to ensure young athletes don’t get hurt.  What I found most intriguing was that children sleeping less then 6 hours the night before competition were also at an increased risk for fatigue related injuries.  The article went on to recommend at least 7 hours of sleep per night to decrease your risk of injury.

So guess what that means?  Burning the candle at both ends by training hard and not sleeping enough can get you hurt!  It makes total sense but its nice to see some research backing up this viewpoint.

So there it is, two cool research articles you can apply immediately!